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New report presents a green look at NAFTA-related logistics operations

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
April 07, 2011

Lately when I think of NAFTA, I tend to think of the U.S.-Mexico cross-border trucking program and all of the starts and stops and related drama associated with it over the years. But a recently-released report from the Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) got me thinking about NAFTA in a different way.

It is a way, which goes beyond cross trucking and impacts us all, whether you are a shipper, carrier, or consumer; that way being the environment.

In its report, entitled “Destination Sustainability: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Freight Transportation in North America,” CEC examines NAFTA’s continental freight transportation network, which it said is the second largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in North America following electricity generation.

One of the report’s most telling findings is that by 2030 truck emissions are being projected to increase 20 percent. Given the current situation when it comes to GHG emissions, it likely stands to reason that projection could be much higher. But make no mistake it is pretty steep all the same.

And with higher GHG emissions, comes a reduced competitive advantage, according to CEC Executive Director Evan Lloyd, and it requires more than ongoing inroads being made on fuel economy and transportation technology.

To counter increased GHG emissions from trucks in the next 20 years or so, the CEC report offers various recommendations that could dint its future impact.

One recommendation is to roll out carbon pricing and system efficiency strategies in which the U.S., Canada, and Mexico should consider putting a price on carbon to provide a clear signal that investing in efficiency and low-carbon fuel alternatives are vital.

Another one was a call for the NAFTA partners to re-invest in transportation infrastructure, coupled with fuel-saving alternatives and adopting intelligent transportation systems.

Improving supply chain management processes also came up, too. CEC said that managing transportation systems more efficiently by working harder to fill loads on the back haul that commonly are “empty miles” and also leverage railroads when applicable.

These recommendations and others made in the CEC report show that being green and focusing on sustainability are more than just talk, or, as a friend often tells me, “cocktail chatter.”

Look no more than the White House’s recent call for its National Clean Fleets Partnership, which it said is designed to help large companies cut down on diesel and gasoline usage in their fleets by meshing electronic vehicles, alternative fuels, and fuel-savings measures into their daily operations.

While this effort looks promising, it is by no means a one size fits all solution, as all different companies have different needs obviously. But, again, when it comes to sustainable logistics and transportation practices, methods, and mandates, for that matter, there is a lot going on and a lot to be excited about.

Much of this is still “cocktail chatter” to a degree, but I am excited to see what happens as we belly up to the bar of green logistics.

What do you think? Newsroom Notes wants to know.

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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